This year we missed our usual trip north to Scotland and the other day I overheard the sound of Oystercatchers on one of my StillWalks videos playing in the background. It emphasised the loss of not getting to where they had been recorded.
At least I have the StillWalk to watch and listen to. Here are a couple of images from it. The video can be viewed on the Spring Walks page.
So, back to the canvas, or at least, the place from which that “Metallic Canvas” came – the old burnt out freezer that provided me with so much colour and texture for my camera and sound for my recorder. I said that I would try and explain my interest in metal and my weird liking for the sounds it can make and these are the clues.
Over this last week I have shown something of the ways in which I have used metal in my work but perhaps I have not explained why I use and like it.
Synesthesia – This is not how I would describe my visual, aural or linguistic experience of the world. However, from the moment I started tapestry weaving at college many years ago, I was excited by the touch and texture of the materials I handled.
It took many years of weaving to reach a level of expertise with which I was happy and confident. A part of this development was my deepening understanding of how my body, my fingers, interacted with the structure of warp and weft. For many years I used strong bold colours and blends in my tapestries and this too helped me to gain a clearer understanding of how colour interacts in different ways in different circumstances. Tapestry weaving is unique in its absorption and reflection of light – hence its generosity with colour.
These things are key to my approach to photography, sound recording, StillWalks and my “Interventions”. I have carried out workshops in the past where I have asked people to close their eyes and listen to the sound of an instrument or an everyday kitchen object and think about what colour the sound might be or what it would feel like if they could touch the sound as it travels through the air around them. Music, too, is often described in terms of colour, texture and form. This is not synesthesia, I do not see numbers as colours or whatever the crossover of senses might be for an individual experiencing synesthesia.
I find the relationship of one sense to another exciting and I am thinking more and more these days in terms of how everything in this world is interconnected in one way or another. The texture and colour of an old burnt out freezer relates precisely to what has happened (or been done) to it. The sounds it makes in this state are unique to its condition and the circumstances of the space that it occupies.
Sounds are very important to me and whilst it may just be a matter of personal taste in the end, the fact that I like those (some would say harsh) sounds that metal can make, is relevant to StillWalks. I specifically do not like the soft, ethereal music that is so often used on meditation disks and it is this fact that led me to explore field recording and its use in StillWalks. The sounds in StillWalks are unique to the time and place of the walk, and the photography, and therefore, what you hear in each walk is entirely the result of the conditions at the time.
I find it fascinating how little these conditions need to change in order to create a different sound – it may be wind strength and direction or simply atmospheric pressure, time of day or year or how many people, birds and other creatures are around . . . and those thing too, only exist as they do because of the conditions and circumstances at any given time and place.
Everything is interconnected and it is this that I try to impart to project participants when out in the field. How we interact with our surroundings has an influence on everything that is a part of those surroundings and as a species that is in the privileged position of being able to make conscious choices about what we do and how we act in relation to everything (and everyone) around us, we have a responsibility to consider the effect we have on all those things to which we are connected directly or indirectly.
Oh dear, now I’m getting preachy – sorry about that folks 🙂 Comments welcome!
Suffice it to say that it is the colours and textures both visually and aurally that attracts me to metal. This says nothing of the symbolism that it can have in different forms and conditions, but that is something that perhaps should be left to the audience to interpret.
Along the thematic timeline of my work with metal (see previous posts this week), “Conflict”, at this stage, is still playing its part in my move towards StillWalks. The Story of StillWalks refers to this and the first pieces I produced using still photography and sound were about presenting my internal conflict issues.
Through my interactive digital media work on school and community projects, my interest in sound and sound recording grew. Like all means of communication, literacy in the form used – speech (language), sight (visual), sound (aural) – comes with experience (and teaching).
I have been sound recording for some time now. My project work required mainly voice recording but with StillWalks the focus is on field recording. Over the past few years I have developed my aural literacy in this area and found that there is so much more to hear out there if you only learn to listen.
I guess my interest in the sounds made by metal stems from my work over the years actually handling the stuff!
The images below are available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.
Click below to hear a sound clip from one of my first video walks which incorporates field recording from a forest and . . . other sounds! This is a very early piece of work and it and others can be seen here.
“Over the Edge”
The image above uses a screen shot of the spectral display (manipulated) from an audio file of flowing water.
I have managed, in the last photo of this series, to bring the scale of the Meridian Tower down to that of the Helwick Lightship sitting in Swansea’s marina.
The sounds of the marina can be a fascinating orchestra of rigging when the wind is up. On this day there was just the lapping of water under the floating booms, passing voices and high heeled shoes. They would not have been there if the marina wind orchestra had been playing!
New StillWalks – I have just completed a new StillWalk, for Summer, of my parents garden in France, “Garden Walk, France”. It is a beautiful garden and the sounds of the birds and bees, the church bells and the peace take me straight back there.
There is also a StillWalk house tour produced to help sell the house. Anyone interested should check it out and if you know of anyone who may be interested, please pass this on.
It seems to me that these stones are an audience in the circle watching the tide –
– but really it is their balancing act that is the attraction!
With each StillWalk I produce, I select nine or ten images as stand alone shots and make them available for purchase. These are two more from the “Coastal Walk” in Spring in South West Scotland. The photos are available to buy at PhotoBox.
Looking out to sea and waiting – that is what these “standing stones” appear to be doing!
My StillWalk, “Coastal Walk“, in Scotland in the Spring features these shots. The balanced stones looked as though they were just biding their time and waiting for some spectacular event – or perhaps they were just soaking up the sun while they could.